Innovation and leadership as drivers of agriculture-powered growth and productivity in rural areas
Berlin/Nairobi, 05 December 2018 – The 21st Century is Africa’s. In contrast to many of the stories we see, the continent is on the move, with signs of prosperity and progress seen in entire economies and in the lives of millions of its people. These signs are giving rise to even greater aspirations for the years ahead with many African nations pushing to achieve middle income status in the next 30 years, and a few others gunning for high income status.
Agriculture, a sector that provides a living to about 70 per cent of Africa population, is at the heart of this progress. Investments in African agriculture have yielded impressive results with the continent recording the highest agricultural growth rates in the world between 2000 and 2016 at just over 4 per cent compared to the world’s average slightly under 3 per cent.
Countries that have prioritized agriculture have realized notable progress. For example, in Ethiopia, 25 years of steady growth in the farm sector has cut rural poverty rates in half and in Rwanda, poverty has reduced by 25 percent over the same period powered by a resurgent agricultural sector. The result of this progress is jobs and improved livelihoods for millions of African families.
This is not to say everything is working. For all of the signs of progress in recent years, Africa still needs to move from food shortage to surplus, drive beneficial continental trade, and create millions of more jobs and opportunities, particularly for women and youth.
Business and progress as usual is not enough for the continent’s aspirations, and we must do more and do it more successfully. The agricultural sector and food systems must continue to develop to more rapidly and sustainably deliver incomes, food security, nutrition, and wider economic opportunities.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), founded in 2006 following a call by the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and the institution’s founding chair, is working to advance food security and inclusive rural development on the continent, with the smallholder farmers at the center of Africa ́s growing economy. It is a farmer-centered, African-led, partnerships-driven institution that is transforming smallholder farming from a solitary struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
This week, the AGRA Board was meeting in Berlin for its end of year meeting invited by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in recognition of the significant leadership role the German Government, private sector, implementing organizations, and civil society have played in supporting Africa’s agricultural and rural development in recent years. Meeting in Berlin, the AGRA Board sought to continue strengthening this partnership.
“Africa’s development will be delivered by Africans. As the Chair of the AGRA Board, I am grateful to the many African leaders that are guiding this process including by providing their leadership on this Board,” said Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Wireless International and Chairman of the AGRA Board of Directors. The reference recognizes members of AGRA’s Board, which include African leaders such as Hailemariam Deslegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, and Lionel Zinsou, former Prime Minister of Benin.
“We are also grateful to partners like Germany through BMZ for lending their support to our efforts. Your methodical approach will greatly enhance our delivery to ensure investments in agriculture drive inclusive economic growth and continue to generate wealth and jobs for African youth and farmers,” added Mr. Masiyiwa.
Agriculture is, indeed, the surest path to inclusive economic growth and jobs creation. Evidence from around the world attest to this as no region has built a modern economy without first strengthening the agricultural sector. This is true of both ancient economies and in modern times.
Africa will not be an exception. A functioning agricultural system will be key to addressing the multiple challenges on the contient including food insecurity and malnutrition; youth unemployment; climate change; conflicts; and migration.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is one of Africa’s key partners. It is investing around 1.5 billion euros annually in the special initiative “EINEWELT ohne Hunger” (ONEWORLD without Hunger) in the priority area of food security and rural development making Germany the world’s most important bilateral donor.
The “Marshall Plan with Africa” initiated by BMZ and the “Compact with Africa” have also given many new and important impulses in recent months that go far beyond traditional, project-related cooperation.
“Our experience here in Germany has shown that the agricultural sector can be a source of jobs. We are proud to partner with Africa and its institutions like AGRA to deliver on this promise,” said Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“While development partners have a role to play, strong African partners who assume responsibility, carry out reforms and promote the potential of young people are the first and most important prerequisite,” added Dr. Flachsbarth.
Part of the engagements in Berlin included meetings with representatives of the German civil society, a public lecture and youth town hall at the Humboldt University by Mr. Masiyiwa with African youth and professionals in Germany, a meeting with the German Farmers Associations, and a high-level event at the German Ministry of Development with the German thought leadership in both public and private sector.
For more information, please contact Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA Interim Head of Communications at email@example.com or Tel. No: +254 723 857 270
Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led, Africa-based and farmer-centered institution working to put smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming their farming from a solitary struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
Working in collaboration with our partners—including African governments, researchers, development partners, the private sector and civil society— AGRA’s work primarily focuses on smallholder farmers – men and women who typically cultivate staple crops on two hectares or less.
In its new strategy for 2017-2021, AGRA is supporting 11 African countries and 30 million smallholder farm households (150 million individuals) to increase their incomes and improve their food security.
The AGRA Board, chaired by Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman Econet Group, composes of leaders from Africa and the globe drawn from the public and the private sector with a passion for transforming the lives of the majority of Africans living in rural areas.